Blue Cross Honors WellPoint Transparency Program

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The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association recognized a WellPoint subsidiary recently that helps steer consumer choices to less expensive diagnostic imaging centers.

The program by American Imaging Management first informs referring physicians about costs as they make their decision. It then delivers a telephone call to patients scheduled for a test with information about cost and capability of nearby imaging centers. If patients choose to change facilities, the AIM program assists them in making an appointment.

"Advanced diagnostic imaging exams are very expensive and often patients and their physicians are not aware that price can vary dramatically depending on where the exam is performed," says Brandon Cady, president and chief executive officer of AIM according to a press release.

In a pilot study of the WellPoint program in the Indianapolis region, more than 1,500 cases were redirected since December 2010, resulting in an estimated savings of more than $1.6 million, according to the release.

The AIM program is similar to an effort recently rolled out by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio called the Radiology Image Shopper. Both programs go beyond simply providing cost and quality information to consumers because they push information to patients instead.

"As consumers become more engaged in their health care, having accurate, timely and relevant information that can be used to support decision making is critical,” says Cady, according to a press release. “AIM's program has demonstrated that it can play a positive role in empowering individuals to become more informed health care consumers."

For more on American Imaging Management click here.